The tea industry in Kenya is centered on smallholder tea production. Approximately 600 000 smallholders produce some 70% of the marketed tea in the country. Approximately 56% of this tea is vended raw in the unfettered informal market; leading to public disquiets about hygiene and safety (Authority, 2005). This leads to farmers being unable to reap fully their produces as there is no value addition in the tea before it is sold. Middlemen don’t buy the tea at good prices as well. This necessitates the development of tea factories through which farmers can be able to market their products at better prices. Therefore a computerized information system for managing their tea produce comes in handy.
Githongo Tea Factory is designed to be an initiative to support the smallholder tea farmers of Githongo Division, to market their tea. The society currently manages its records manually which makes them unsecure, inconsistent and redundant. Retrieval of information is time consuming and tedious. This has necessitated the development of a system that will assist the factory and the farmers manage their records efficiently through the use of a computerized system (Muriuki, 2010).
1.1 Problem statement
Small scale farmers in Kenya who sell their tea produce through factories are faced with many challenges when it comes to managing their produces. This is due to the fact that the records are maintained manually which has many limitations. Githongo Tea factory uses a manual system which is faced with a multitude of problems which include: Unsecure records due to lack of proper checks, verifications and validations control mechanisms, expensive processing and management of farmers’ records due to its manual nature, inconsistencies in data input, processing and output leading to unreliable information for decision making, time consuming undertaking as a result of manual entries and processing. This study would overcome the above challenges by developing a computerized information management system.
1.2 Problem Definition
To create a system that will automate the Githongo tea factory system of processing tea from the farmers.
1.3 System objective
i. To investigate the current system to identify its weaknesses.
ii. To conduct a review of similar tea factories to come up with a comprehensive report that can be used to improve management of the tea factory.
iii. To develop and implement a computerized system that will assist farmers in tea factory manage their tea production records
The scope of the proposed system is: tea production record-keeping, electronic management of farmers’ earnings, computerized storage of records and computerized retrieval and update of records.
Some limitations of these study are limited time to conduct the study, rules and regulations governing the formation and running of tea factories and inadequate funds to develop the whole system. To overcome them, a system prototype which is cheaper, quick to develop and would demonstrate the key features of the system was designed.
This study is justified by the following factors: Wastage will be reduced. It will reduce the paper work by increasing efficiency and decreasing the work load. The proposed system will enable prompt, accurate, and immediate payment to farmers. Transparency of operation due to its automated nature thus reducing corruption practices in the tea factories. Real time, anywhere any time access. The system being web based can be accessed anywhere enabling the farmers to interact with the system at all times. Enhance decision making process due to regular reliable and instant system reports.
The study will enhance the management of the society and enhance accountability making this study significant.
The system will perform as required and that there will be no incidences such as server failure or hacking breaches.
A cooperative is an inclusive business model that is suited to the needs of small-size firms within the agricultural, food or other sectors which are typically common in rural communities. Cooperatives offer a different form of organizational business model that is investor oriented firms or the joint-stock companies (corporations), common in many parts of the world (Sumelius & Tenaw, 2010)(Liu & Sumelius, 2010). Cooperatives have arisen where the cost of adjustment to economic change has threatened to destroy communities and where local people wanted power to control the pace and direction of change in order to preserve what they valued.
A cooperative can be defined as an autonomous association of persons autonomous of government, who jointly own an enterprise. Cooperatives membership is voluntary and members share similar ideas. Their primary existence is to benefit its members though they also have responsibility for their wider community (Sumelius & Tenaw, 2010).
Tea farming requires continuous and intense decision making because it’s an integrated production system that is highly dynamic. Numerous tea farm units that include cattle, crops, soils, weather, management, economics and environment are extremely interrelated (Rotz, Chianese, Hafner, & Coiner, 2011). These components and their sub-components dynamically affect and are affected among them. Therefore, an efficient management information system (MIS) framework is critical for successful tea farming management and decision-making.
2.2 Tea Industry
The tea industry is a distinct case in world agriculture. The particulars of the tea industry are due to four, partly joined factors. The head factor is found in the specific properties of tea as a raw material. In addition tea is extremely perishable and also potentially subject to contamination (Deshmukh, Chopde, Kalyankar, & Kele, 2015). Africa has been unsuccessful in the attainment of self-sufficiency in tea production. This region has, consequently, depended on tea imports to fulfill the rising domestic demand. Because of foreign exchange constraints, however, numerous countries in the region can barely afford the continued importation of these tea products and are using artificial insemination and improvements in tea marketing systems as well as developing domestic tea sectors through up grading their local herds, (Mbogoh, 2005).